'Lost' finds thrills in TV's past and present

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In "Lost" (7 p.m., WLS-Ch. 7), ABC may well have found a big hit, a rip-roaring fantasy-adventure and an anodyne to network dramas dominated by crime, law and medicine.

"Lost" evokes memories of "Fantasy Island," "Gilligan's Island," "Mysterious Island," "Swiss Family Robinson," the reality show "Survivor" and the "Alien" movies. In some ways, it mingles and borrows premises and thrills from all of them.

But though something of a stranded-on-a-desert-island stew, the ingredients are stylishly stirred and Wednesday's premiere so spicy that "Lost" is as likely as any new show this season to delight -- and hook -- viewers for quite some time. It begins with the image of a bloody, wounded man inexplicably in the middle of lush island greenery. As he rushes through the forest, he races by some alarming debris, including a muddied tennis shoe hanging mysteriously from a tree limb.

Soon, we get the picture, as, amid bloodcurdling screams, he emerges onto a beach crammed with dazed survivors and smoldering airplane wreckage. Some 50 survivors are marooned with him, many of them seriously injured and all of them confused and terrified.

It turns out they have a lot more to worry about than an aviation catastrophe. They have only each other, and they turn out to be one motley crew. There's Jack (Matthew Fox), a valiant physician; Kate (Evangeline Lilly), a beauty with enough chutzpah to improvise as a surgical assistant and stitch wounds; Charlie (Dominic Monaghan from "Lord of the Rings"), a leprechaun-like rock musician and heroin addict in the throes of withdrawal; a spoiled pair of siblings (Ian Somerhalder and Maggie Grace), way in over their yuppie heads; Sayid (Naveen Andrews), a veteran of the Iraqi Republican guard; and Locke (Terry O'Quinn), a weird, standoffish sort who whispers ominously to one of the children, "Do you want to know a secret?"

Meanwhile, a pair of empty handcuffs reveals there was a federal prisoner on board, who may have survived and whose identity, at least for most of the first episode, remains a mystery. Creepiest of all, and erasing whatever pretense to reality the show could claim, there are things that go bumpy in the balmy, tropical night.

Loud, crashing noises and thunderous, animal-like roars are heard from the jungle; the pilot is snatched up from the cockpit remains and mauled into a bloody mess by some sort of bad, unseen beastie; and an expedition group shoots and kills a giant polar bear, a species we all know doesn't dwell in the tropics.

"Guys," Charlie asks, in what may be the topic sentence of the whole series, "Where are we?"

The answer may not matter, since the show's creators, J.J. Abrams ("Alias") and Damon Lindelof ("Crossing Jordan"), have crammed this one with so many chills and cliffhanging plot twists that it's all about sitting back, tossing credulity out the window and waiting for what happens next. The classy look and feel of the opener (the series is shot in Hawaii) also help make "Lost" a feast for the young and young at heart, even if you find yourself a little embarrassed, in the dead of a dark Wednesday night, to be so seduced by Saturday matinee fare.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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